Thursday, January 04, 2007

My year in Pop Culture, part 1

During the next few days (while moving), I will be giving my assessment of the best in film, album, song, book and culture. I have my lists, now I need to assign a numeric value (arbitrary I might add) and a blurb on each.

Needless to say this is based upon 1 guy's opinion: that 1 guy being 1) white, 2) Christian, 3) snobbish, 4) a fan of guitars (oh, I already said "white"), 5) averse to extreme violent imagery, 6) a nonfan of emo, screamo, whin-o or 80's retreads or Adam Sandler, 7) into strong plots and characters (as well as acting), 8) a bit nerdy, 9) in his 30s, 10) one that thinks he has great taste.

In other words, these lists cannot be trusted unless the person reading them bears much in common with me. I cannot attest to listening comprehensively to the latest opuses from Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ghostface killer or Gwen Stephani. These albums may be superior to anything I mention- however, I would not know. The same can be said for the latest films by Mel Gibson (I am sure it is brilliant, but see #5) and Ron Howard (see #3 and #7).

As I compiled my list, I must offer the following films as my disappointments for 2006 (luckily I did not see many of the really bad movies this year- since I don't have to watch everything and will not watch crappy movies unless I am paid to).

X-Men 3: The Last Stand The first X-Men was too short but an excellent introduction to the politically charged comic book series suffering from minor character issues (mostly the lack of development of Cyclops). The second X-Men ranks among the best comic book to film adaptations ever. Last Stand is an inferior film directed by an inferior director that destroys the franchise.

A Prairie Home Companion It pains me to say such about the final film of America's Greatest Living Director (through November- now Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorcese will have to duke it out). It is a fine film, well acted, interesting and insightful. But, it is not among Altman's great achievements, being a bit too quirky (and I like quirky, especially Altman quirky) and snail paced at times. The dialogue is brilliant and the comic timing impeccable, but some scenes go too long. It is a little too precious for my tastes.

Babel Although it may make it into my Top 10 by the skin of its teeth, Iñárritu's epic story arch suffers from one painful reality. If you are going to connect multiple story lines, make sure the connection is not tenuous. While fascinating, we did not need the Tokyo story in this film. If it is there, tie it closer to the rest of the story. Even the connection between the main storyline and that of the children in SoCal frays at times. While beautifully filmed and perfectly acted, this movie could have been so much better than it is (if you don't believe me watch Iñárritu's superior 21 Grams). That said, it is light year's ahead of Crash, last year's overrated Oscar winner. Babel is a beautiful mess and a grand failure (but, so is Apocalypse Now).

Cars Cute, but having none of the emotional resonance of Pixar classics such as Finding Nemo, The Incredibles or Toy Story (it is missing the pathos of those films), it shoots low and hits its target, which is similar to most children's film. It does look cool and my kids loved it (so, what do I know).

Superman Returns So, Bryan Singer did not complete his X Men trilogy for this? Don't get me wrong, it was entertaining and fun at times, with a great subplot concerning Superman's possible offspring. But, I had to suffer through X Men 3 so he could turn Superman into Jesus? Plus, Kevin Spacey is no Lex Luther. Gene Hackman will always be Lex.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest I must say that the first POTC was among the best summer popcorn movies I have ever seen (along with The Fugitive, The Rundown, Die Hard). It was a shallow film based on a theme park ride, but worked spectacularly. However, this one suffered from the middle child syndrome, no beginning and no ending (just pure middle). To work as a middle child in a trilogy, a film has to be superior to the rest (see Superman II, X Men 2, The Empire Strikes Back and The Two Towers). While not franchise destroying (like Matrix Reloaded), it is not particularly memorable. Hopefully #3 is better.

Scoop After giving us his best film in a decade my hopes were high, especially when paired with Scarlett Johansson, but Woody Allen chooses the same tired shtick we have seen too often. It is not particularly suspenseful, funny or memorable (somehow he gets Scarlett and Hugh to overact).

Click For the life of me, I have no idea how I get stuck watching Adam Sandler pablum on a regular basis (blame my wife). This film is okay the first hour with the potential to be very funny. But, the last 45 minutes are a painful attempt at Capra-corn. I felt I was watching a bad Christmas special on television with all the "life lessons." I would have liked the movie if it had not been a dream and they killed him at the end!

Any questions?


Mike said...

aware that you said you are not an Adam Sandler fan...

what did you think of Spanglish and Punch Drunk?

i was never a fan of his until he did wedding singer and the two above.

Dustin said...

I can't argue too much on anything but X-Men 3. I enjoyed the movie. It was certainly not nearly as good as X2. That one was fantastic but it wasn't bad.

Click however was HORRIBLE.

I'm looking forward to hear your favorites.

Christian said...


If your going to blog please develope some opinions. Your list on your self is not detailed enough!:)

Nice start on the list. I agree, Gene Hackman is Lex Luther!

Rick said...

there seem to be multiple Adam Sandlers.

1) The good actor when he has a strong director (i.e. those movies you mention above)

2) The complete goofball only concerned with making you laugh with no life lessons (I like him less, but think he is good in Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy)

3) The Guy that wants to be crude and teach you some shallow life lesson. He wants to offend the girl and get her. This is the Adam of Click, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds and Anger Management I hated each of these movies). These films have Adam in complete charge of everyting (story and production also).

I can give it a #4, where he is the bad #3, but for some reason, usually story and other actors, it does work- The Wedding singer. I think Wedding Singer is an anomoly.

Even Keaunu Reeves gave us Bill and Ted and Speed (I don't count the MAtrix- anyone could have pulled it off).

As for Dustin's reaction to the X Men- you are right. It is not terrible. It is just terribly disappointing because it could have been so good. Plus, i am always going to be pissed with what they did with Cyclops in that film. It borders on blasphemy to a comic fan!

james said...

Very well thought out on these man. and kudos for taking th time to discuss some of the films which could have been much better but weren't. Most would normally just write them off.

Especially appreciate your trilogy discussion, and how the second should be the most pivotal. the only part i will disagree with is the Two Towers being better than the rest. But hey, this is your blog. T'will be interesting to see how Spidey 3 fares. Trailer makes it look like it will be quite superb.

James said...

Just saw Superman Returns. Couldn't agree more with your assessment. Very disappointing.